Month: March 2016

Loving Lately ☀️

Loving Lately: Family Vacation

I’ve been really behind on my blog reading recently… but for good cause.

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We’ve been soaking up the sun!

I just love quality family time.

I love making memories with my babies big kids.

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It goes by so fast, life… childhood… vacation… dessert…

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Gotta go…

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Annie’s Lemon-Raspberry Cheesecake with Macadamia Nut Crust

My friend Annie is an excellent cook and baker. Her sugar cookie decorating is flawless (I’ve actually invited her over for a lesson) and after more than one meal I have requested recipes because of being blown away by her flavor combinations. It just so happens that she also creates perfect cheesecakes. Thankfully for me she is also completely generous with her time, ingredient lists, and instructions!

As organic as possible:

For the Crust:

1-8 oz pkg of macadamia nuts, crushed

1/2 cup butter, melted

1/4 cup of sugar

3/4 cup flour

Mix all 4 ingredients and press into 9″ cheesecake (spring form) pan. Bake at 350 for 15 minutes. Remove from oven and set aside.

Cheesecake:

2 lbs of cream cheese, softened

1 1/4 cups of sugar

1 Tbsp flour

3 whole eggs

2 egg yolks

2 Tbsp fresly grated lemon zest

1 tsp of vanilla

1 1/4 cups heavy cream

Using a stand up mixer, combine cream cheese, sugar and flour. Then add eggs and yolks one at a time. Add the zest and vanilla and mix until combined. Lastly, add the heavy cream and blend until smooth and creamy. Pour the batter into the macadamia crust-lined pan and bake at 400 for 15 minutes, then 200 for 30 minutes. Turn it off and let the cheesecake sit in oven for 2 hours. When cooled completely apply topping as follows if desired:
The topping is from Ina Garten online (1 cup of raspberry jelly melted over low heat, then mixed with 2 pints of fresh raspberries until all the raspberries were coated)

Featured Image courtesy of Ryan French

Bobby Flay’s Parker House Rolls

Ok, so before my blogging friends get excited for me that I have broken through my bread making barrier, let me come clean and say the chef (aka my sister) made these rolls. But I ate them, and they are perfect. So if your looking for a dinner roll to accompany your holiday dinner (or any meal) and you haven’t committed to the traditional Easter “hot cross buns,” then here is a winner! They are soft and just impeccably dense, flawless served warm with a pat of butter… it’s as if Bobby Flay knows what he is talking about.

 

As organic as possible: (my contribution)

1 1/2 cups milk
1 stick unsalted butter, cut into pieces, plus more for brushing
1/2 cup sugar
1 package active dry yeast
1/2 cup warm water
3 large eggs, lightly beaten
1 1/2 teaspoons salt
6 cups all-purpose flour

Place milk in a small saucepan and bring to a simmer. Remove from the heat, stir in the butter and sugar and let cool. Dissolve yeast in warm water and let sit until foamy. Combine milk mixture, eggs, yeast, salt, and 1/2 of the flour in a mixer with the dough attachment and mix until smooth. Add the remaining flour, 1/2 cup at a time, and stir until a smooth ball forms.

Remove from the bowl and knead by hand on a floured surface for about 5 minutes. Place in greased bowl, cover, and let rise in a warm place until doubled in bulk, about 60 to 70 minutes. On a floured surface, punch down the dough and shape into desired shapes. Place on a parchment paper-lined baking sheet. Cover again and let rise until doubled, about 30 to 40 minutes.

Preheat the oven 350 degrees F.

Bake for about 20 minutes or until golden brown. Remove from the oven and brush with melted butter before serving.

Click Parker House Roll  for original recipe from Bobby Flay and Food Network. And they also have a link to a video if you’d like further instruction!

 

 

Loving Lately 🐝

Loving Lately: Honey

My husband has a great boss name Jason; who happens to be friends with a guy named Terry; who happens to be the president of the Michigan Beekeeper’s Association. Recently Jason gifted us a beautiful large jar of Terry’s Lazy T’s honey. How fortunate are we?

Honey, also referred to as liquid gold, has been used in the kitchen as a natural sweetener for ages. But did you know that it has antibacterial and anti-fungal properties that have made it extremely useful for medicinal purposes as well? Many people believe it is a viable solution in dealing with allergies. Bees collect pollen which is then used to make the honey. The small traces of pollen that remain in the honey are comparable to vaccinations in that once consumed your immune system builds antibodies to the pollens. This is just one of the reasons why buying local honey is so important. It can help you build up tolerances to common allergens in your own area!

The sweet nectar in honey is loaded with antioxidants that have been linked in studies with promoting healthy brain function and boosting memory. In addition, honey has been successfully used as a cough suppressant and topically useful for treating minor burns and wounds. No wonder it’s considered so valuable!

For more information about the Michigan Beekeeper’s Association and keeping bees click on www.michiganbees.org

Flavor Your Water

Once upon a time, I worked at an upscale day spa. It was a gorgeous relaxation facility with all sorts of estheticians, massage therapists, nail techs, hair stylists and lavish beauty products. As I possess none of those professional skills, I was a part of guest services. And the best thing I took with me when I left (since I couldn’t take any people) was the tips on flavor-infused waters. We would select a different water filled with freshly prepared fruits, and occasionally vegetables, daily to serve in the lounging area. Of course they could be as well known as lemon-lime, containing vibrant round slices of green and yellow, but my favorites were the simple and oh-so refreshing cucumber water and the watermelon water with pure pink cubes of sweetness.

Lately I’ve been seeing so many more creative blends. What a great presentation they make when entertaining guests, and how fun to come up with flavors that complement your meal! As an added bonus, you can feel good about serving your loved ones a flavorful option that doesn’t include any added refined sugar, artificial flavors or colors. That is so nice of you!

Pictured above is just an easy addition of frozen blueberries, raspberries and blackberries to iced water. Here are a few more I’ve found for us to try…

An inspiring youtube video from Honeysuckle Catering I originally saw on Facebook: 8 Ways to drink more Water

From SkinnyMe Tea courtesy of Pinterest:

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Berry-Banana Smoothie Bowl

Now that I’m a raging health nut… I buy healthy recipe magazines. And according to my Clean Eating periodical, “Smoothie Bowls” are all the rage. They’re smoothies you can chuck so full of nutritional goodness and frozen fruits/veggies that you can’t suck them through a straw- hence the bowl and spoon. Of course if you know me, you know I am all about cutting edge (and regularly sarcastic). But I thought, why not? I like smoothies and I certainly know how to freeze a banana. However, for all my strides in stocking my pantry with chia seeds, coconut milk, almond flour, and avocado oil; I still came up short on my chlorella, maqui berry and maca powders. So I came up with my own, and I must say that it does feel indulgent. Like eating berry ice cream for breakfast! 😉

 

Serves 2 (or a hungry 1)

As organic as possible:

9 frozen Strawberries

1 frozen Banana, sliced into 2″ pieces

1/2 cup Almond Milk (Soy or non-fat milk)

5 Ice cubes

2 cups mixed frozen Blueberries, Raspberries and Blackberries

1/3 cup granola (preferably with some source of protein: nuts or seeds), plus more for topping (optional)

1 Tbsp Honey (buzzword “raw” optional)

 

Make sure to freeze your fruit the night before or at least several hours in advance (or you might end up with a regular old smoothie). Place all the ingredients in a blender and flip the switch! (Or push the button…)

Spoon the ingredients into a bowl and top with granola or slivered almonds if you’d like, and eat up butter cup. You’re so healthy!

Loving Lately 🍀

Loving Lately: St. Patrick’s Day

One day a year it is perfectly acceptable to eat and drink green food and beverages; and my mother makes enough corned beef and cabbage to feed a small army. I just cherish holidays that have sentimental food attachments.

In honor of the special day, I’ve collected a few fun recipes that represent the notion.

How Sweet Eats’ Irish Ale Potato Cheddar Soup with Beer Battered Leeks

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The Metal Pan’s Guinness Empinadas

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My very own, Sadie’s Nest’s Shepherd’s Pie

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And a little something to wash it all down… The Pioneer Woman’s Guinness Float

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Happy St. Paddy’s Day! And thanks a mil for joining me, you’re grand!

*Featured Image and Irish blessing courtesy of the internet.

Diet Life

My diet life could be compared to Oprah’s, except not as public. It’s more of a let go, then reel it in approach rather than a lifestyle- which kind of is a lifestyle. It’s all about perspective.

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But I’m working on it, because I want to be overall healthier. So my friends and I have started a Diet Club. Ironically, the club consists of the same members as the Dinner Club. (Which reminds me I need to set a date for our long overdo Israeli cuisine night.) Basically, we have all set individual goals. They vary in range from counting calories to training for a marathon to cutting processed foods to learning to dance the waltz, etc. We communicate through a group text and encourage each other to keep it up.

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In the mean time, I couldn’t show you a picture of my breakfast banana. I am sure to start getting creative, you know, and swap all of the oil in my quick breads for applesauce; replace the cream in my sauces with skim milk (Eeek)… But for now I will share a few photos from this weekend.

I actually made a commitment to one of my dearest blogging friends, Lynn of Lynz Real Cooking, to take pictures of some barns (which I treasure and romanticize about the stories they hold… dilapidated just gives character). And thankfully I have more time to do it… Because I got only one in this trip.

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But I did find inspiration else where…

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I also told Lynn that I would challenge Owen to come up with a sandwich. Until then, I will share an Owen hot dog (not on the diet).

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It is so nice that the weather here is getting milder and easier for strolls. Did I mention I tried a youtube Zumba class? Hilarious. Like Steve Martin finding his rhythm in The Jerk. But it’s something I can rope my kids into doing with me right in the living room. So yes! And I am actually very excited about getting a little more healthy… And maybe I can spread my enthusiasm; encourage a few people to make a good choice or two. Because little choices add up. (See, that’s like something I could text to the group.)

I love the little sign -signifying the foot path…

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Just a little reminder to stay on course.

 

 

Rhonda’s Crock Pot Chicken Cacciatore

I don’t know a cook who doesn’t appreciate the awesomeness of a home cooked meal ready for you when you’re ready for it. Crock pot meals are the bees knees. I love that with a little bit of assembly, you can get a whole lot of pay off at the end of the day- a great return on your investment. Chicken Cacciatore is hearty and healthy, and really great served on a warm bed of rice. This variation has a rich tomato base with a hint of white wine and fire roasted red peppers. Yum!

As organic as possible:

2 lbs Boneless skinless Chicken, cut into bite size pieces

1 large yellow Onion, rustically diced

3-4 cloves Garlic, minced

1 – 12 oz. jar Fire Roasted Red Peppers, drained and chopped into bite size pieces

12 oz. Tomato paste

2 tsp Sugar

1/2 cup White Wine

2 tsp Oregano

1 tsp dried Basil

1 tsp Salt

3 Tbsp Olive oil (Plus 1 Tbsp optional)

1 tsp Crushed Red Pepper flakes

 

If you have one of those cool crock pots that can go from stove top to crock pot warmer, it is optional to heat a tablespoon of olive oil and sauté the onions until they have a little color (to develop flavor). It is also a possibility to sauté them in a pan and transfer them to the crock pot. And lastly it is also an option to omit this step all together and save time.

Place the onions on the bottom of the crock pot. Top with the chicken pieces.

In a bowl add the garlic, red peppers, tomato paste, sugar, wine, oregano, basil, salt, oil and red pepper flakes. Stir until incorporated and pour on top of chicken.

Cook on low for about 8 hours or on high for about 4. If sauce seems to thick add a 1/4 cup of water. Serve with rice or pasta. Enjoy!

Maple Raisin Scones

Scones, either you get them or you don’t. It’s like jazz. I love ’em both. I was trying to explain them to my kids, “They’re kind of like a cross between a cookie and a biscuit, a muffin-cracker…” I appreciate their dryer and less sweet nature. I love that you can load them with fun dried fruits and citrus zests. And of course I think anything that complements my cup of coffee is pretty fantastic.

As organic as possible:

1 cup Whole wheat flour

1 cup Flour

2 tsp Baking powder

2 Tbsp Sugar

1/2 tsp salt

1/2 cup Butter (cold), cut into cubes

1/2 cup (rounded) dried Raisins

1 1/2 Tbsp Lemon zest

1 Egg

3 Tbsp Maple Syrup

3/4 cup Cream

 

Preheat the oven to 375°.

Whisk the dry ingredients; whole wheat flour, flour, baking powder, sugar, salt. Using a pastry blender or two table knives cut the butter into the dry mixture until it resembles pea sized crumbs. Add the raisins and zest, toss until evenly distributed.

In a small bowl whisk the egg. Add the maple syrup and continue to whisk until blended. Pour in the cream and whisk a little more.

Add the egg mixture into the dry ingredients. Gently stir until all is combined. Then place the dough onto a lightly floured surface and shape into a rectangle. (An oval will do fine, just try to cut even pieces.) Using a dough lift or knife, cut the dough in half lengthwise and across the center width making 4 small rectangles. Then cut those small rectangles in half through the width (making 8 squares). Next cut diagonally from corner to corner (making 16 triangles). Use the lift and place the triangles onto a Silpat or parchment lined baking sheet. Bake 20-25 minutes. Until the bottom is just browning.

Enjoy warm with cream… and a cup of coffee.

Adapted from Brown Eggs and Jam Jars Make Ahead Currant Scones